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What Investors Look for on Financial Advisor Websites

Let’s assume Fred is a prudent investor who has decided to turn his financial future over to an advisor who provides planning and investment services. Let’s also assume Fred is retiring and he is rolling a sizable sum of money from a 401k into a self-directed IRA.

Because Fred is a prudent investor he is going to be very thoughtful about who he hires to give him planning and investment advice. Over the years he has heard a lot of friends, family, and associates complain about their financial advisors. And, every now and then even brand name firms are hit with substantial fines for taking advantage of their clientele. All of this causes Fred to be very cautious when he hires a financial advisor.

Let’s make another assumption. Fred does not know the names of any financial advisors who really stand out for their expertise, ethics, and results. No one he knows is raving about their financial advisors. This makes sense because most investors and centers of influence are not comfortable making referrals. 

They are concerned their friend, family member, or associate will have a bad experience and it will impact their relationship. Their concern is valid because the future may not be like the past. For example, they refer Fred to their financial advisor at the top of a bull market and his initial experience is a bear market.

In our example, Fred is on his own.


Learn, Find, Research Financial Advisors

Where can Fred go to accomplish three important goals:

  • Learn more about financial advisors
  • Find financial advisors he can interview
  • Research financial advisors before he contacts them for interviews

It is also important to Fred that he retain his anonymity until he is ready to initiate contact and schedule interviews.


The Internet is a GameChanger

The Internet makes all of this possible. All Fred has to be comfortable with is how to use the search engines to find what he is looking for.

Fred has to know enough to enter the right keywords in his favorite search engine, which is probably Google because it controls 72% of search traffic.


Learn More About Financial Advisors

This is easier said than done. There is a vast amount of information about financial advisors on the Internet. But, it is scattered and confusing. Fred is going to have to be very patient in his search for information. 

And, depending on the websites that he lands on, there is a good chance he will find the information even more confusing and sometimes contradictory. 

Consequently, every high-quality financial advisor website should have a free, gated eBook that describes the differences between financial advisors:

  • Backgrounds of firms
  • Sources of expertise
  • Ethics
  • Fiduciary status
  • Methods of compensation
  • Types of services
  • Methods of communication

You get the idea. Your ebook describes the information that Fred should be reviewing when he selects a financial advisor.

There is one caveat. Only higher quality firms can provide this educational content on their websites. Lower quality firms will have to rely on their sales tactics to produce new clients.


Financial Advisor Websites

Once Fred has a pretty good idea of what he is looking for he can start his search for firms he can interview. At this point, he may also be making an important decision. Should he limit his search to local firms he can meet with face-to-face or is he open to virtual relationships where the primary interaction is conducted on Zoom?

If Fred is the typical investor, he is going to visit six to eight financial advisor websites and compare the following information:

  • Background information about the firms
  • Bios of the firms’ professionals
  • Descriptions of services the firms provide
  • Types of clients the firms work with
  • Reasons why he should interview particular firms

This is the general information that Fred is comparing between firms.

It also stands to reason, Fred is also going to be confused by some of the information. That’s because he could be visiting the websites of wirehouses and boutiques. They have very different approaches when financial advisors use their websites to convince investors to contact them. 

In a recent Paladin survey, 82.7% of investors said they visit financial advisor websites before contacting them.


Google Name Search

Another 64.2% of investors said they conducted Google name searches. Since Fred wants to be very cautious, he Google searches the names of firms and the names of key professionals at the firms. He is looking for both positive information that would cause him to contact certain firms and negative information that would cause him to avoid certain firms.

But, what if Fred finds very little information on the Internet that is connected to the firm? This is cause for concern because he is looking for firms that are experts in their fields. 

Real experts tend to be more visible. Therefore, firms should be very proactive in building credibility and visibility for their firms on the Internet. This is a critical variable because visibility is the primary source of traffic for financial advisor websites.


Reviews & Testimonials

The regulatory agencies are becoming more flexible in regard to advisors using reviews and testimonials to validate the quality of their services.

Fred knows financial advisors control testimonials that appear on their websites. What advisor, in their right mind, would publish a negative testimonial. Fred is also pretty sure that financial advisors can influence or control the content in testimonials. 

They ask their best clients to provide testimonials then they recommend the language that appears in the testimonials. Fred, being the conscientious person he is, also reads the disclaimers that go along with the testimonials.

Reviews are a little different. There can be positive and negative reviews that are posted on the Internet. Some investors, who believe they have been damaged by particular advisors, may be more inclined to post negative reviews. On the other hand, investors who have benefitted from the advisor's services may be motivated to post positive reviews.

Fred will put more importance on reviews because he believes financial advisors have less control over them.


Two Types of Positive Contact

Fred is going to spend two to three minutes on their websites learning about the firms that pop up in his search. He is going to contact the two or three firms that he likes the best. But, there are two forms of contact that benefit financial advisors.

He has an immediate need for a financial advisor so he uses the Contact Us function to schedule an introductory interview. For many financial advisors, this is the ideal type of contact, because it is based on an immediate need.

On the other hand, Fred does not have an immediate need because he does not retire for six months. So, as part of his learning curve, he registers to receive a free eBook, which also puts him on the financial advisor’s drip list. He will receive periodic emails that are also part of his research process. Drip emails help him learn more about the firms on his list.

Both types of contact have the potential to produce new clients for advisors and should be included in their financial advisor marketing strategy.

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